Home Bar Essentials Checklist

A nine-bottle bar should meet all your cocktail needs, giving you the ingredients to make hundreds of recipes. Here's the only liquor you need, along with mixers, gadgets, garnishes, and glasses.

Clear martini glass
Photo: Michele Gastl

Liquor

  • Bourbon

  • Cointreau or triple sec (some people swear Cointreau is worth the money even if you mix it)

  • Gin

  • Rum (light)

  • Scotch (blended)

  • Tequila (white)

  • Vermouth (dry)

  • Vermouth (sweet)

  • Vodka

Wine

  • Red

  • White

Beer

  • Light

  • Dark

Mixers

  • Cola

  • Ginger ale

  • Club soda

  • Sparkling water

  • Tonic water

  • Cranberry juice

  • Orange juice

  • Angostura bitters

Garnishes

  • Green olives (pitted)

  • Lemons

  • Limes

  • Kosher salt

  • Maraschino cherries

Accessories

  • Long cocktail spoon

  • Paring knife

  • Peeler

  • Cutting board

  • Corkscrew

  • Bottle opener

  • Juice squeezer

  • Standard shaker: The shaker should have a metal bottom and a metal lid with a strainer.

  • Jigger: Choose one with a 1-ounce measure on one side and 1 1/2 ounces on the other. Most recipes call for 1 1/2 ounces of alcohol (a jigger, or a shot), but some call for 1 ounce (a pony). If you don't have a jigger, 3 tablespoons are about equal to 1 1/2 ounces.

  • Bartending handbook. (Ultimate Bartender's Guide by Ray Foley, inventor of the Fuzzy Navel drink recipe!)

  • Cocktail napkins

  • Cocktail toothpicks

  • Swizzle sticks

Glasses

  • Martini glasses

  • Highball glasses

  • All-purpose wineglasses

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